Last Thursday, Year 5 set off on an exciting expedition to Scotney Castle to explore this beautiful house and old castle ruins, set in gorgeous grounds ablaze with colourful azaleas and rhododendrons. This was a joint English/Art trip which involved sketching the castle ruins and gathering inspiration for our creative writing (connected with our Fairy Tales unit of work). We found out about the concept of ‘the picturesque’ from Tracey Konyu, who explained that Scotney House (which was built around 1837) was designed to showcase the view of the ancient castle ruins below. Our kind and knowledgeable guide, Phil Henry, told us all about the history of Scotney Castle, its last owners (the Husseys) and the geology of the Weald. He was very impressed by the general knowledge of our Year 5s, particularly Max P, who knew all about the extraction of iron ore! Sketchbooks and pens at the ready, the pupils had a limited amount of time to work ‘en plein air’. Thankfully the weather was on our side and we had the perfect location. What more could you ask for than a chance to capture the many views of Scotney Castle and ‘the picturesque’? There was only one problem and that was the absence of any pencils, sharpeners or erasers! All we had were black pens. This was, in fact, Tracey Konyu’s cunning plan, to ensure that the children would commit to a drawing, to save time rubbing out ‘mistakes’ and to build drawing confidence. Some sensitive drawings were produced of another beautiful setting.

In our English lessons since our trip, we have thinking about the bits of Scotney which we found most interesting. I particularly enjoyed reading these pieces: “Scotney tower is like a mystical wizard’s house … I like the ivy crawling down the tower like Rapunzel’s hair.” (Jack L) “At the front of the house, I can see a tall door and above … an engraved plaque that said 1837. The house was made of sandstone … on the roof there were lots of crenellations that looked as old as a grandma …” (Frankie F) “From the path, I could see a beautiful variety of colourful flowers, all different shades of blue, pink and purple … a pond with big green lily pads scattered around and even some ducks … I felt like I was in a fairy tale. There was a small stone arch and ivy which looked like it had been put there by a witch because it was swallowing the wall.” (Isla B) “The bedroom was as white as daisy petals, pottery like clouds. A bed like starlight, a vanity set like no other. It was huge with millions of tools.” (Lorelei) “The old castle was beautifully surrounded by a moat. {…} The moat surrounded it like a fairy tale. Generations of trees have looked down on the old castle which was built in 1377.” (Albert M)  Other highlights of our trip (aside from the sketching) included exploring the inside of Scotney House, admiring the artwork in (and views from) Betty Hussey’s bedroom, marvelling at the grandeur of the dining room laid out for dinner, peeping into the old-fashioned larder in the kitchen (as it would have been in Betty’s day), encountering two very sociable ducks in the grounds and savouring some delicious ice creams at the end of the day! Emily Platt, Tracey Konyu and Francis Nash.